It took cunning and persistence to outmaneuver one of the most powerful Republicans in the Arizona Legislature, but, so far, Sen. Ken Cheuvront seems to have pulled it off.
Cheuvront, a Democrat from Phoenix, rallied enough last-minute support on Feb. 18 to amend a bill by Sen. Russell Pearce and derail Pearce’s plans to fast-track its passage.
Pearce, a Republican from Mesa who chairs the Appropriations Committee, drafted S1102 to loosen restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon. It also would allow people to shoot others who threaten physical violence.
But now, because of Cheuvront, the bill also establishes felony charges for selling or transferring firearms at a gun show without requiring buyers to prove they are U.S. citizens.
“This is in response to the drug wars that are happening on the border,” Cheuvront said. “Right now, many of the Mexican nationals are coming across and purchasing arms in the United States, taking them back across the border and killing thousands of people, both innocent and not innocent.”
Pearce, though, said it is already illegal for non-citizens to possess weapons.
“We already have laws against the bad guys getting these guns,” he said.
Pearce was miffed about the amendment and vowed to remove it, somehow.
“One way or the other, it’s coming off,” he said.
Part of the reason for Pearce’s frustration is that his bill would have been on the fast-track to passage if it had not been amended. A bill that was identical to his had been filed in the House, and the two bills could have been substituted for each other to save time.
But Cheuvront disrupted those plans when he called for a roll-call vote on the amendment during a Committee of the Whole debate, at which time amendments are successful if a majority of the members present vote for it. Fifteen senators voted to amend Pearce’s bill, while 14 voted against it.
It was Cheuvront’s third try to pass the amendment, which initially failed in committee on Feb. 1. It failed again during a voice vote in the Feb. 18 Committee of the Whole, but Cheuvront challenged that outcome and prevailed.